The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has dealt another blow to the New Jersey gaming industry as about 16,000 casino workers spread across nine Atlantic City casinos were temporally laid off on March 27.
According to the Press of Atlantic City, the move was to allow casino workers to file for unemployment benefits while curtailing the growing costs of compensation during a pandemic with an uncertain end date.
In a memo to its’ employees, Ocean Casino Resort emphasized the fact that this layoff is temporary and that the company will bring employees back when business reopens.
“We plan to reinstate your employment as soon as we have the business needs and are permitted to operate.”
AC casino layoffs sweep the Boardwalk
When Gov. Phil Murphy gave the order to close the casinos on March 16, all AC casinos offered workers compensation packages.
They decided to do the layoffs after the release of the latest unemployment numbers. The report showed 155,000 New Jerseyans filed, 16 times more than the last report.
These layoffs are temporary, and casino workers will be eligible for unemployment benefits. Even so, this is a tough pill to swallow for workers as they now no longer have health insurance during a pandemic with numbers of infected people growing by the day.
Another layer of stress for casino workers is there is no guarantee every casino will rehire every employee. It is not unreasonable to think there may be a reduction in the work-force on the other side of this global health and economic crisis.
The silver lining is that there is state assistance available for laid-off casino workers.
NJ casinos shutdown will impact state revenue
The loss of income for the gaming industry is also something that should be a significant concern for the state, according to a report for the American Gaming Association (AGA). And while NJ online casinos remain operational, the revenue from online gaming doesn’t begin to compare to the revenue from land-based casinos.
A two-month shutdown of AC casinos will cost the state over a billion dollars in lost revenue. This number not only includes any and all money made by casinos but also casino suppliers and vendors as well.
Bill Miller, president, and CEO of the AGA, said in a statement.
“The impact on our employees, their families and communities is staggering, and the implications extend far beyond the casino floor.”
Two months seems to be the going length of time for social distancing guidelines regarding COVID-19 to be in place. Current federal guidelines now have a target of April 30 before restrictions will ease.
There is hope to have life back to “normal” around June 1. Whether that timeline is realistic is unknown, however.
This shutdown has been a major blow to the economic rebound that Atlantic City has made. The nine casinos made approximately $3.3 billion in revenue last year. This shutdown will almost guarantee a loss for 2020.
If this pandemic extends into the summer months where AC makes the vast majority of its money, the result could be catastrophic for all involved. We may be looking at a different Atlantic City on the other side.
Terry Glebocki, CEO of Ocean Casino Resort, said as much in a statement.
“This is truly an unprecedented time not only for Ocean but for everyone,”